Restoring Gun Rights In North Carolina
The consequences of a felony conviction do not end when you are released from prison. Your record follows you and interferes with your life in many ways, including preventing you from owning a gun or ammunition. The ability to carry a firearm is a very important freedom to many North Carolinians and being prevented from doing so because of your criminal history can be difficult to accept.
Fortunately, your right to own a gun could be restored, depending on your particular circumstances. At my Greenville law firm, the Law Offices of Keith A. Williams, I proudly represent people who have state felony convictions in their pasts but who have turned themselves around and now wish for the right to carry a firearm. My clients include people throughout North Carolina.
Ways To Restore Firearms Rights
The facts about restoring gun rights are some of the key things to know regarding gun law. This is an area of law full of misinformation, so obtaining accurate advice from an experienced Greenville attorney such as myself is your best choice. As your lawyer, there are three possible ways that I could have your gun rights restored if you have a North Carolina felony conviction on your record:
- Expunge a nonviolent felony conviction. We can apply for expunction 10 years after the end of your active sentence or the end of your probation.
- If you do not qualify for expunction, I may still be able to restore your right to own a gun, even though the conviction will stay on your record. We can apply for restoration of rights 20 years after the end of your active sentence or the end of your probation. You may be eligible for restoration even if you have other marks on your record.
- If numbers one and two are unavailable to you, it may be possible to file a lawsuit asking for your gun rights to be restored. The argument would be that the gun ban, as applied to you, is unconstitutional because you otherwise have followed the law and have a stable, established record of providing for your family and making a positive contribution to your community. It is an expensive option, but it may be worth pursuing if you have an old, nonviolent felony conviction with a general history of law-abiding conduct since the felony conviction but do not qualify for any other relief. This has been done repeatedly in North Carolina.
Limitations On Restoring Gun Rights In North Carolina
Not all convicted felons are eligible for restoration of their gun rights. You cannot obtain gun rights if:
- You were convicted of a federal felony
- You were convicted of a state felony in a state other than North Carolina
Essentially, the option to have gun rights restored is only available to those who were convicted in a state court within the state of North Carolina.
Restoring Rights After Involuntary Commitment
If you lost firearm rights because of an involuntary commitment for mental health treatment, we can petition to restore your rights. We would file the petition in state court. We would argue that you present no danger to others and that granting relief would be in the public interest. If the court grants the petition, the court would sign an order directing the FBI to remove the involuntary commitment from your background check. The procedure was put in place in North Carolina after Congress passed the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007.
Wrongful Denial of Firearm by FBI
If you applied to purchase a firearm and were denied because of a NICS background check, you have the right to appeal to a higher level of the FBI. The normal way to appeal is submitting a Voluntary Appeal File (VAF).
The problem: the FBI has a backlog that can result in a long delay processing your VAF. Here’s a link to their website showing the current backlog: https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics/national-instant-criminal-background-check-system-nics-appeals-vaf
You have another option. We can file a federal lawsuit under 18 USC § 925A and ask a judge to order the FBI to approve your application. In the right situation, filing the lawsuit can resolve things much faster. And it is not as costly as you might expect.
Contact An Eastern North Carolina Attorney For A Free Consultation
If you would like to explore the possibility of having your North Carolina firearms possession rights restored, call the Law Offices of Keith A. Williams, P.A., today. You can reach my Greenville office at 252-565-4661 or via email.